Parliament notifies Gasim of case to remove him from JSC

Parliament has sent a notice to Majlis-appointed member to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Gasim Ibrahim, regarding a case to remove him from his post.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim told local media on Friday (March 22) that a notice had been sent to Gasim, who is also the presidential candidate for Jumhoree Party (JP), as per parliament procedures.

Nazim stated that the case submitted by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to remove Gasim from the JSC would be put on parliament’s agenda only after speaking with leaders from various political parties.

The notice follows a meeting held last week by Parliament’s Independent Commissions Oversight Committee, in which the entire JSC board was summoned to attend.

Throughout March, the oversight committee has been speaking with members of JSC in regard to the manner in which judges were appointed to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court bench. The court is currently hearing the trial of former president Mohamed Nasheed, who is Gasim’s presidential rival in the upcoming elections in September.

Oversight Committee member and MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News that during the meeting held on Wednesday (March 20), Gasim had lacked integrity when faced with questions from the committee.

“The focus of my questions was on the integrity of the JSC members and of the independence of judges.

“When I asked Mr Gasim whether he had announced his [presidential] candidacy before or after he was nominated to his post within the JSC, he said ‘I am not sure’,” Hamid claimed.

Gasim’s presidential rival and leader of the MDP, former President Mohamed Nasheed, is currently facing charges at Hulhumale’ court over the controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

The MDP has maintained that the charges against Nasheed are a politically motivated attempt to bar him from the election in September.

Despite the JSC Chair and Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed declaring that the commission refused to discuss matters regarding the Hulhumale’ Court, individual members of the JSC still attended the oversight meetings.

“It is like a domino effect – the chair of the JSC has lost his authority. We believe this is the first step of the JSC being shaken to its core,” Hamid said. “Even on Wednesday the chair was still resistant to being questioned.”

Statements from individual JSC members given to the oversight committee revealed there had been concern as to how the Hulhumale’ Court bench had been appointed.

Furthermore, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul raised concerns over the politicisation of the JSC last month.

“I have heard from numerous sources that the current composition of the JSC is inadequate and politicised.

Because of this politicisation, the commission has been subjected to all sorts of external influence and consequently has been unable to function properly,” Knaul stated last month.

JSC composition does not allow independence of judiciary to be maintained: Shakoor

On Wednesday (March 20), Attorney General and JSC member Aishath Azima Shakoor told local media that the current composition of the commission did not allow it to maintain independence of the judiciary.

“I believe that, even though JSC has been composed according to constitution, it does not allow [it] to maintain the independence of the judiciary.

“I do not believe that JSC’s configuration is based on the most effective model. But JSC is how the Constitution says it should be, so we have to function like that,” Azima was quoted as saying in local media.

In regard to Gasim, who voted in favour of establishing the Hulhumale’ Court bench, Azima told local media that if she had been in Gasim’s position when the vote for the court bench had been undertaken, she would not have participated in the vote.

“I believe that the Parliament Committee on Independent Institutions’ review or investigation of the manner in which Hulhumale’ Court bench of judges was established will affect the trail that is currently proceeding in that court,” Azima was quoted as saying in Sun Online.


President wanted “credit” for Maamigili Airport lease extension: former transport minister

Former Minister of Transport Dr Ahmed Shamheed has criticised his removal from cabinet last year following the decision to extend the lease of Maamigili Airport by 99 years.

Shamheed has claimed that he was dismissed by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik following the approval of the airport lease extension because the president wanted to take credit for the decision.  The lease was given at the time to the Chairman of Villa Group, Gasim Ibrahim.

Last month, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) began an investigation into the 99-year lease of the airport. According to the ACC President, Hassan Luthfee, the investigation is still ongoing.

Despite the investigation, President Waheed inaugurated Maamigili Airport last week (February 28).

Shamheed claimed that the decision to extend the airport lease had been made whilst former President Mohamed Nasheed had been in power, and that the decision was not one he had made on his own.

“It was the economic committee who had decided on the lease, I never decided on my own. It was initiated by the committee actually, that is how it started,” Shamheed alleged to Minivan News.

“It do not think it was the 99-year lease that was the problem, I heard from people close to him that he thought he should be the one making the decision. He thought he should take the credit for that.”

Shamheed was nominated to his former ministerial post by the government-aligned Jumhooree Party (JP) – of which Gasim is the party’s president.

Speaking back in November 2012, the former transport minister told local media that the documents to extend the airport lease for 99 years had been sent to the transport ministry by Nasheed’s government.

“The current government delayed the matter. The president government only endorsed the decision. It was decided by the NPC [National Planning Council] during the former government,” he was quoted as saying in local newspaper Haveeru.

President Waheed inaugurated Villa International Airport in Maamigili Island in south Ari Atoll on February 28.

Speaking at the ceremony, Waheed thanked Chairman of Villa Group, Gasim Ibrahim, before stating that he was greatly honoured to inaugurate the airport.

The main objective of making the airport an international airport was to improve the country’s transport system and the tourism industry, Waheed said during the ceremony.